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Friday - January 07, 2011

From: Kissimmee, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Eradicating Campsis radicans in Kissimee FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am interested in information on eradicating or controlling 'cow itch' [campsis radicans?] which is spreading on an empty lot of land adjacent to an occupied dwelling. It is causing significant discomfort to the neighbor and my attempts at cutting it and treating it with herbicide are not effective. HELP!! Thank you.

ANSWER:

You probably already know what we are going to tell you-that you have a tough job ahead of you eradicating, or at least discouraging, the growth of Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper). In case you are not already sufficiently motivated to solve this problem, you might read some of the negative comments on the vine from this Dave's Garden forum website on the problems it presents.

You have apparently already been doing the first thing we would suggest, which is cutting it down, and hauling it off. You do not want to allow the plant to go to seed, which it will begin to do shortly after it begins to bloom. That, at least, will keep fresh new plants from coming up, except, of course, for the ones birds bring in. Sorry.

Next, get a full spectrum herbicide and some disposable sponge brushes. With good sharp clippers, cut off the vines close to the soil and immediately paint the cut edge with the herbicide. Doing it within 5 minutes of cutting will prevent the vine from healing over the cut to protect the roots in the ground. Finally, arrange to have the area mowed very close on a regular basis. The roots of those plants you have cut down are still going to be fighting to survive. They will put up shoots everywhere which, if you have cut away all the vines above ground, will provide the roots with new leaves to nourish the roots that remain. And, of course, those little baby vines will grow up to be big vines if left alone.

This is a tedious process, and the moral is: If it's an invasive, the best way to get rid of it is to not plant it.

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